Friday, 22 March 2019

London gets screwed

Nowadays we're used to London being treated better than the rest of the UK. (Transport is a great example.) It's one of the reasons the country is in such a mess. But on the eve of WW I, it was London feeling disadvataged by new licence duties.

The 1909 Budget caused massive political unrest. Which ultimately led to reform of the House of Lords, when it was voted down by that house.  The Liberal government's proposals, conceived by chancellor David Lloyd George were quite progressive, introducing the first bits of the welfare state. Things like old age pensions. But they needed to be pais for.

One of the areas wher enew revenue was to be raised was from the drinks industry. But this time it wasn't to come from an increase in the tax on beer. Instead, licences were to be the source. Specifically brewing licences and pub licences.

"London and High Licences.
The National Trade Defence Association have issued a statement pointing out the eifect of the proposed licence duties in the administrative County of London, an area in which the Chancellor admits that the gross annual values on which the duties are to be paid approximate to the real values. The following figures are quoted, drawn from “Licensed Premises, 1909,” Return No. 1,255, May 7th, 1909, issued by the London County Council:—

Public-houses (4,742), gross annual value £1,576,266
Take, according to the Finance Bill, 50 per gross annual value per cent. of this value £788,133
Beerhouses (1,715), gross annual value £145,593
Take, according to the Finance Bill, one-third of this value £48,531
Total Future Duties £836,664

Public-houses (4,742) at an average gross annual value of £332 would pay an average licence duty of £40 £189,680
Beerhouses (1,715): (537 at £4 and 1,178 at £3 10s.) £6,271
Total Present Duties £195,931
Therefore the future duties will exceed the present duties by £640,713
Brewers' Journal, vol. 45, 1909, pages 413 - 414.
The average licence fee of a London fully-licensed was going to rise from £40 a year to £166.20 - a more than fourfold increase.  To put that into perspective, a pint of Mild cost 2d in the public bar. Assuming a generous 1d per pint profit for the publican, that's around 40,000 pints that would need to be sold just to pay for the licence. Or slightly more than 2.5 barrels per week.

The result of the new rules would leave London paying a disproportionate amount of the increase. Why? Because the new licence rate was based on the rateable value of the pub and those values were much higher in London than elsewhere.  Partly becasuse in London the rateable value was close to the rent which could be realistically obtained for the premises. While in most of the country the rateable value was a nominal sum.

Which meant London publicans got doubly screwed. Once, because property prices were high in London and again because the rateable values were high.

"The population in the administrative County of London is one-tenth of that of the United Kingdom.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (the statement proceeds) in his Budget statement said that he expected to get an additional £2,600,000 from his new licence duties and his new brewers“ licences. Deducting £630,000 for brewers' licences and for duties to be levied on licensed premises other than public-houses and beerhouses, we have £2,000,000 as the additional amount to be obtained from the public-houses and the beerhouses of the United Kingdom. One-tenth of this sum is £230,000; instead of that, the administrative County of London will be called upon to pay £640,000. In the year ending March 31st, 1908, the yield of the licence duties was £2,222,359, from which must deducted the receipts for duties levied on licensed premises other than public-houses and beerhouses, and out of the total so reduced the administrative County of London paid £195,951, or approximately one-tenth of the whole.

The result may be summarised as follows:— London will pay a sum at least four times as large as the licence duties at the present time, and more than three times as large as the just share of the increased duties which should fall on London, measured either by population or by its share of the licence duties paid hitherto, and this in a district where the price of beer charged by the brewer is exceptionally low. These figures reveal such a startling inequality in the treatment of London that it is impossible to think that it can be left unredressed."
Brewers' Journal, vol. 45, 1909, pages 413 - 414.

I found this statement of note "the price of beer charged by the brewer is exceptionally low". That's not something that could be said of London nowadays.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

UK brewing 1938 - 1949

WW II was a challenging time for British brewers, though, due to a variety of factors, not nearly as difficult as WW I.

The biggest difference was that, unlike in WW I, beer production was maintained at it pre-war level.  Even in terms of standard barrels, which take the OG of the beer out of the equation. In terms of bulk barrels, production actually increased by 25%.

The difference between the two wars was due to a variety of factors. Better preparation, an assumption that the war would last several years, and controlling food supply right from the outset meant that raw materials were never in as short supply. But another important factor was the more sympathetic approach of the government. In WW I the authorities had been positively hostile to the industry.

At first glance it might seem odd that imports held up so well during WW II. In WW I, imports had dwindled to zero. But it’s all about Ireland, which in 1939 was an independent country. But still supplying large quantities of beer to the UK. Imports during the war years were almost exclusively from Ireland. And the vast majority of it a single beer, Guinness Extra Stout.

There was one thing which suffered: the strength of beer, which dropped by almost 20%. Average gravity would never return to its level of 1939, settling down at around 1037º in 1951. Where it remained for the next forty years.  It was one of the most long-lasting effects of the war.

Beer production and consumption, which both fared well during the war, weren’t so lucky during the peace. They fell all through the 1950s and only got back to their 1948 level in 1961.  Falling demand was one of the factors behind the large scale rationalisation in the 1950s.

UK brewing 1938 - 1949
Year Production (bulk barrels) Production (standard barrels) Consumption (bulk barrels) Exports (bulk barrels) Imports (bulk barrels) Average OG
1938 24,205,631 18,055,539 25,087,393 281,284 1,163,046 1041.02
1939 24,674,992 18,364,156 25,229,287 283,974 838,269 1040.93
1940 25,366,782 18,738,619 25,922,694 266,766 822,678 1040.62
1941 26,203,803 18,351,113 26,768,038 225,552 789,787 1038.51
1942 29,860,796 19,294,605 30,813,374 94,796 1,047,374 1035.53
1943 29,296,672 18,293,919 30,027,441 107,019 837,788 1034.34
1944 30,478,289 19,193,773 30,973,081 77,597 572,389 1034.63
1945 31,332,852 19,678,449 31,968,011 130,443 765,602 1034.54
1946 32,650,200 20,612,225 33,391,810 187,418 929,028 1034.72
1947 29,261,398 17,343,690 30,011,879 109,680 860,161 1032.59
1948 30,408,634 18,061,390 31,067,391 205,098 863,855 1032.66
1949 26,990,144 16,409,937 27,611,545 254,147 875,548 1033.43
change 1938 - 1949 11.50% -9.11% 10.06% -9.68% -24.74% -18.50%
Brewers' Almanack 1955, pages 50 and 57.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1900 Amsdell Winter XX

In a change from the usual plain fare of UK recipes, here's one from the famous brewing town of Albany, New York. And fitting in with March as Mild month, it's a Mild recipe. How wacky is that - a genuine US Mild recipe?

X Ales were one of the mainstays of American Ale breweries in the 19th century. With their origin obviously lying with English X Ales.

The term Mild Ale doesn’t seem to have been used much in the USA. “Present Use”, a slightly old-fashioned term in the UK by 1900, was used to signify the same thing. But mostly they were just called Ales. Usually XX or XXX, for some reason. X Ale, the most popular Ale in England, doesn’t seem to have been a thing in the USA. Probably just breweries bigging up their Ales.

Amsdell’s XX has about the same gravity as a London X Ale of 1900, though the bitterness is a bit lower. (Refer back to 1899 Barclay Perkins X for a full comparison. I can’t be arsed to do it for you.)

The grist has the same ingredients as usual as Amsdell. Except there’s also a little black malt, presumably for colour. It doesn’t specify where it was added, so it could have been in the copper. Where it would have added more colour than in the mash. What was added in the copper was 20 lbs of salt. Which is slightly less than an eighth of an ounce for a recipe of the size below.

1900 Amsdell Winter XX
pale malt 8.25 lb 65.32%
grits 4.00 lb 31.67%
black malt 0.05 lb 0.40%
glucose 0.33 lb 2.61%
Cluster 30 mins 2.25 oz
OG 1056
FG 1022
ABV 4.5
Apparent attenuation 60.71%
IBU 31
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 30 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast WLP051 California V

This recipe is one of many North American ones in my outstanding collection of historic recipes:

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

UK Beer Imports during WW II

Before WW I, beer imports into the UK were at a very low level – just 50,000 barrels in 1910.   This figure shot up, however to 1.3 million barrels in 1924.   There was a very simple reason for this sudden massive increase: Irish independence. Over 95% of imports were a single beer, Guinness Extra Stout.

As you can see in the table below, little had changed by the time WW II kicked off.  Much as before the first war, imports from the rest of the world remained at a meagre 50,000 barrels or so. Judging by the main sources of these imports – Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands – it’s safe to assume most of this was Lager.

All of the countries from which the UK imported any quantity of beer (other than the Republic of Ireland) were in Axis hands during the war. So it’s pretty obvious they wouldn’t be supplying any beer for the duration.

Sadly, I don’t have figures for the source of imports during the war years. However, I do have the numbers for total Irish exports. Adjusting these to strip out Foreign Extra Stout and using the OG of Guinness to convert standard barrels to bulk barrels, I can come up with a reasonable estimate of Irish imports. And it matches very closely to the total volume of imports. Not that that should be any great surprise.

The fall in imports from Ireland in 1943 and 1944 is as a result of a dispute between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. In late 1943, in order to force the UK government to export more grain to Ireland, the Irish government banned the export of beer. The UK caved in, fearing what would happen in Northern Ireland where the vast majority of beer sold was from the Republic. Almost all in the form of Guinness.

After the war, imports picked up pretty much where they had left off. The only exception being Germany, from which no beer was imported until 1953.  Lack of availability would have been one of the main reasons. In the immediate post-war years the occupying powers severely restricted brewing in Germany. The British, for example, only allowed brewing for UK troops stationed in Germany.

UK Beer imports 1936 - 1951
Country of Origin 1936 1937 1938 1950 1951
Irish Republic 1,380,343 1,256,212 836,624 1,031,159 1,025,902
Other British Countries 128 121 108 22 31
Total from British Countries 1,380,471 1,256,333 836,732 1,031,181 1,025,933
Denmark 17,867 22,560 25,459 17,686 23,058
Germany 16,953 18,669 18,813 - -
Netherlands 8,824 9,143 8,708 2,685 3,492
Belgium 128 705 821 700 1,150
Czechoslovakia 3,806 3,882 3,810 915 903
Other Foreign Countries 241 180 278 224 1,703
Total from Foreign Countries 47,819 55,139 57,895 22,110 30,306
Total Bulk Barrels 1,428,290 1,311,472 894,627 1,053,291 1,056,239
“1955 Brewers' Almanack”, page 60.

Guinness Extra Stout exports to the UK 1939 - 1943
Years ended 31st March 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943
Irish Exports: Standard barrels 770,562 789,864 767,209 905,165 691,275
FES Exports: Standard barrels 17,639 18,810 17,630 9,847 13,864
Exports Extra Stout  752,923 771,054 749,579 895,318 677,411
Extra Stout OG 1055 1053 1048 1047 1046
Irish Exports: bulk barrels 752,923 800,150 858,893 1,047,712 809,947
UK imports 838,269 822,678 789,787 1,047,374 837,788
“1955 Brewers' Almanack”, page 60.
“1955 Brewers' Almanack”, pages 107 - 110.

Guinness Extra Stout exports to the UK 1944 - 1947
Years ended 31st March 1944 1945 1946 1947
Irish Exports: Standard barrels 483,031 661,674 802,122 676,485
FES Exports: Standard barrels 22,660 19,939 15,338 29,974
Exports Extra Stout  460,371 641,735 786,784 646,511
Extra Stout OG 1046 1046 1046 1042
Irish Exports: bulk barrels 550,444 767,292 940,720 846,621
UK imports 572,389 765,602 929,028 860,161
“1955 Brewers' Almanack”, page 60.
“1955 Brewers' Almanack”, pages 107 - 110.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Dublin Porter Shipments to Great Britain 1905 - 1908

Guinness's dominationof Irish brewing is nothing new. Especially when it comes to Stout. Though there may have been Dublin rivals, they were brewing on a far smaller scale than Guinness.

For one simple reason: Guinness had penertrated the British market. Which meant they had a massively larger potential customer base than if their operations had been limited to Ireland.

Dublin Porter Shipments to Great Britain 1905 - 1908
Brewery 1905 1906 1907 1908
Guinness & Co. 604,818 650,981 670,503 687,486
Watkins, Jameson & Co. 38,544 39,482 36,542 36,176
D'Arcy & Son 23,493 27,789 23,472 21,947
Mountjoy Brewery 30,498 29,562 27,513 25,523
Other shippers 228 0 0 22,835
Total 697,581 747,813 758,030 793,965
The Brewers' Journal, vol. 45, 1909, page 8.

Shipments to Britain from the other three other Dublin breweries were declining while those of Guinness were increasing. Eventually the trade of the other breweries would dwindle to nothing.

As you can see in the more detailed table below, in 1908 about a third of Gunness sales were in Great Britaion, the other two thirds in Ireland. When WW I erupted, the proportion shipped to Britain had increased to 40%. It increased even further after WW I, exceeding 50% in 1920.

Though even in 1904 Guinness was selling more Extra Stout in Britain than in Ireland, where the majority of their sales was in the form of Porter. Guinness actively discouraged the shipment of its Porter to Britain because they were afraid of it being passed off as Extra Stout. At this point Extra Stout had an OG of 1075º and Porter 1060º.

Guinness sales 1904 - 1914
Extra Stout Porter other totals
Year Britain Ireland Britain Ireland total Britain Ireland FES/Export total
1904 584,598 494,949 1,375 849,883 74,980 585,973 1,344,832 74,980 2,005,785
1905 601,553 503,096 1,538 858,243 97,520 603,091 1,361,339 97,520 2,061,950
1906 643,878 509,573 1,572 857,919 113,204 645,450 1,357,492 113,204 1,482,268
1907 678,902 521,583 1,137 858,433 116,459 680,039 1,380,016 116,459 2,176,514
1908 695,562 531,337 963 859,977 100,799 696,525 1,391,314 100,799 2,188,638
1909 706,229 560,104 810 879,584 115,596 707,039 1,439,688 115,596 2,262,323
1910 782,281 593,459 1,231 901,660 135,860 783,512 1,495,119 135,860 2,414,491
1911 825,604 616,099 1,738 913,439 146,242 827,342 1,529,536 146,242 2,503,122
1912 913,659 674,868 556 926,592 157,880 914,215 1,601,460 157,880 2,673,555
1913 1,022,077 736,563 276 930,173 139,150 1,022,353 1,666,735 139,150 2,828,243
1914 1,070,814 731,511 116 897,455 141,844 1,070,930 1,628,965 141,844 2,642,740
"A Bottle of Guinness please" by David Hughes, pages 276-279

Numbers, eh? What could be more fun? Yes, obviously certain things people do in private without clothes. but otherwise, what can beat the existential thrill of scraping back the dirt to reveal a fresh number hoard? And can I come up with a paragraph containing more question marks?

Sunday, 17 March 2019

UK Beer Exports 1937 - 1949

Between the wars UK beer exports trundled along at between 200,000 and 350,000 barrels  annually. Which was about half the level it had been pre-WW I, when 500,000 to 650,000 barrels were exported each year.

Clearly the war was going to have an impact on exports. Especially as one of the main destination for UK exports, Belgium, had been occupied by the Germans.  In addition, German U-boats made shipping anything across the Atlantic a dangerous enterprise. And in the early phases of the war British shipping in the Mediterranean was susceptible to German or Italian attacks from the air. Plus most shipping capacity was reserved for war material or essential items, such as food.

Given all these negative factors, it’s no shock that beer exports shrank considerably in the early years of the war:

Belgium appears to have been receiving supplies if British beer right up until the Germans invaded. The trade didn’t resume until a couple of years after war’s end. The quantity of beer going to British colonies dried to a trickle between 1942 and 1944. 

Exports hit a nadir in 1942, a year when the war was only just starting turn in the Allies’ favour.

Not all the export markets were as large after the war as they had been before. India and the Straits Settlements, for example, were taking less than half the beer they had done pre-war. In the case of India, this was doubtless due to the withdrawal of British troops and administrators after independence in 1947. Belgium, on the other hand, imported similar quantities as pre-war. While more beer was shipped to the West Indies after the war than before it.

In the 1950s, UK exports stabilised at around 250,000 barrels a year – similar to what they had been in 1939. Though the destinations changed, as the British Empire slowly withered away and with it the former colonial markets.

UK beer exports by destination 1937 - 1943
Destination 1937 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943
Egypt 12,960 26,597 28,857 28,519 3,658 45
Irish Free State 119,763 52,081 35,306 25,843 16,730 14,810
British W. Africa 9,432 12,468 13,873 22,328 15,544 19,161
India & Straits Settlements 75,349 63,186 69,963 62,260 11,523 638
Brit. West India 10,298 10,925 8,499 8,081 5,082 6,629
Belgium 40,637 29,140 13,080
Other Countries  72,318 89,577 97,188 78,521 42,259 65,736
Total  340,757 283,974 266,766 225,552 94,796 107,019
Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 57.

UK beer exports by destination 1944 - 1949
Destination 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Egypt 4,804 2,966 12,536 12,709 7,587 6,999
Irish Free State 4,878 128 221 3,280 6,201
British W. Africa 10,225 1,190 1,574 5,797 34,626
India & Straits Settlements 2,506 38,333 69,278 8,130 27,538 27,750
Brit. West India 1,701 7 251 1,045 14,009
Belgium 33,786
Other Countries  53,483 78,732 97,860 71,642 169,973 130,756
Total  77,597 130,443 187,418 109,680 205,098 254,127
Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 57.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Let's Brew - 1867 Barclay Perkins XXX Ale

A very special treat today. A Mild worthy of March or May. Or even Middlemarch.

Because this is a beer specifically mentioned by George Eliot in one of her essays:

"German ennui must be something as superlative as Barclay's treble X, which, we suppose, implies an extremely unknown quantity of stupefaction."
I think it's safe to assume that the beer she means in Barclay Perkins XXX. For which I obviously have several brewing records. Including this lovely one from 1867.

By this point Barclay Perkins was no longer the largest brewery in the world, but it remained huge by the standards of the day. In 1867 it brewed 423,444 barrels, and was second in London after Truman, which brewed an impressive 554,955 barrels that year.*

You probably won't be surprised to learn that this was Barclay's strongest Mild Ale. It is a pretty powerful beer. Though not one that was around much longer: it was discontinued sometime in the 1870s. If I'd got my arse in gear and photographed the records between 1870 and 1880, I'd be able to give you a more precise date. But I didn't so I can't.

There's not much to the recipe: one type of pale malt and Mid-Kent hops from the 1866 harvest. A shitload of hops. I've knocked down the quantity a little for the recipe. But, as this was brewed in March 1867, the hops were pretty fresh.

* "The British Brewing Industry, 1830-1980" T. R. Gourvish & R.G. Wilson, pages 610-611.

1867 Barclay Perkins XXX Ale
pale malt 21.00 lb 100.00%
Goldings 75 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 4.00 oz
OG 1093
FG 1034
ABV 7.81
Apparent attenuation 63.44%
IBU 132
1st Mash at 153º F
2nd Mash at 159º F
Sparge at 188º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 15 March 2019

Porcine excrement

Here's an extract from my much-neglected anthology of child torture. Sorry, travels with my infant sons. I would call them little bastards, but they resemble me in far too many ways.

The little bastards, sorry kids, have challenged me to shift more than ten copies of "Can We Go Home Now?" Maybe this extract will persuade you to help me win:

Lemmy's Biercafé
"What do you want?"
"A bacon and egg sandwich."
"A restraining order."
"A pint of Mild."

They didn't have any of these. But the orders did range from the unrealistic to the fantastic.

I'm sitting on a separate table to the kids. It works better that way if I want to write. I would complain of the kids spoiling the day with their antics. In reality, they've given loads of material. What's more important - fun or good material? You know the answer.

You want a description? Alright, brown café, corner location, some sort of music theme. They're playing - and have photos of - early 70's music stars. Is this life on Mars? Musically, yes. Brown wood, board floor. I'm bored. Chairman of the bored. There's a noticeable lack of Iggy here.

"I told you we'd have fun." I always say that. Luckily, today it was true. The kids love the idea of somewhere that invites mess. You're expected to throw your peanut shells on the floor. It's a big hit. I'm as happy as a porcine animal in excrement. They shut up and are just are revelling in litter. Perfect. Whisky time for dad.

Mmm. Maybe that's not such a greeat advert. Not sure what sort of day I was having then.

Want to discover more of my fatherly failings? Buy the effing book. Though I prefer to call them eccenticities rather than failings. But that doesn't alliterate. Unlike buy books.

Girls Get Public House Habit

One of the features of WW II that I like is how the temperance twats carried on much as they had in WW I. But they were completel;y ignored by the authorities.

They held meetings, passed resolutions, wrote letters to newspapers. All to zero effect. It must have been quite disheartening. It almost makes you feel sorry for them. Almost.

Women drinking had been a particular obsession of these twats, as it had been in the 19th century. In fact, moral outrage at females daring to enjoy a drink lasts to this day amongst the scummier elements of the British press. Which is pretty hypocritical, given what a bunch of pissheads journalists are.

Our young people are getting into the public-house habit.” declared the Rev. Walter Steele, of Consett, at the annual Synod of the Sunderland and Durham district of the Methodist Church at Sunderland yesterday.

The matter was creating great concern, he said, as every night one sees crowds of girls in public-houses. A conductress of a bus actually ordered a pint in one to begin with. Mostly they are very voting people and what are we to do? 

"These are the days of increased wages, but when the milk bars are closed, and the cafes offering very little, and they find two nights of dancing sufficient, well, they are a loose end.

"I have,” he added, been talking to some friends whose daughters are in the Forces.

Their reports are very distressing. One girl told that every night in her hut at least two girls were drunk, and she had to hide her valuables under her pillow for fear they were stolen.

"Another girl in the Wrens said some of the girls did not arrive until very late, and four of them who were drunk said they had spent the greater part of the night on a ship.

”It is a serious position, yet our present Government goes out of its way to encourage brewers to push forward their trade. Lord Woolton’s speech in the House of Lords was amazing.”

He moved a resolution urging the Government to take the necessary steps to reduce the manufacture of alcoholic drinks, which destroyed barley and sugar.

The Rev. J. H. J, Barker (Thompson Memorial Hall. Sunderland) said he made it his business to visit a number of public houses every Saturday night, and there he saw girls of scarcely legal age drinking.

"As a Methodist Church we are letting our Bands of Hope and temperance societies slide,” complained the Rev. William Armstrong (Chester-le-Street).

Alderman Bloomfield asserted that gambling ought to be dealt with by the churches, instancing raffles.

The motion was carried.

Motions urging the Government to reduce the number of days allowed for horse and dog racing, and against the sacredness of the Sabbath being affected Home Guard and A.T.C.s being called upon to train on a Sunday morning were also adopted.

At a private session a resolution moved by the Rev. Prank Spencer (Sunderland) and adopted by a large majority, expressed the Synod’s strong conviction that the hopes and aspirations now being cherished for a better national and international life can only realised as they are the expression of the Christian spirit and of Christian principles."
Newcastle Journal - Thursday 14 May 1942, page 4.
There's some great sexist crap in there. Fancy a woman daring to order a pint? And weaselly phrases like "girls of scarcely legal age drinking". That is, women who were over 18 and as free as adult men to indulge in the odd drink or two.

Why did they keep banging on about women so much? Because it was easier to provoke moral outrage.  Complaining about soldiers or sailors drinking, I'm sure they realised, was much less likely to be accepted by the general public.

This was the swansong of the first set of temperance lunatics. They still behaved as if it still had the ear of the government, when it had long since stopped paying attention to their counterproductive demands.

Brewing beer does not destroy barley and sugar. The beer produced from these ingredients retains almost all their food value. This is one of the great - and oft repeated - temperance lies.